Painted from Memory

Painted from Memory is a collaboration between Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. It was released 29 September 1998 on Mercury Records, a division of Universal Music Group.

Painted from Memory
Studio album by
Released29 September 1998
GenrePop, baroque pop
ProducerBurt Bacharach and Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello chronology
Extreme Honey
Painted from Memory
The Sweetest Punch
Burt Bacharach chronology
Painted from Memory
The Sweetest Punch
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Baltimore Sun[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[4]
Los Angeles Times[5]
Rolling Stone[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[10]

The collaboration commenced with "God Give Me Strength", a commission for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart, directed by Allison Anders, starring Illeana Douglas, with lead vocals by Kristen Vigard. Apparently pleased with the result, the pair expanded the project to this full album, the first for Costello after an absence of two years, and for Bacharach after an absence of 21 years. Lyrics and music are co-credited to both Bacharach and Costello. In his 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink, Costello wrote, "To have written a song like "God Give Me Strength" and simply stopped would have been ridiculous, so about a year later we began a series of writing sessions […]."[12]

A companion album, The Sweetest Punch, was made concurrently by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, released in 1999 on another Universal label, Decca Records. It consists of jazz arrangements of the Painted From Memory songs done by Frisell and his studio group. It features vocals by Costello on two songs, and by jazz singer Cassandra Wilson on two songs, one of which is a duet employing both.

Costello had long been a Bacharach fan, and had recorded several Bacharach songs, beginning with "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself," released on a 1978 Stiff Records compilation Live Stiffs Live. Costello would also cover "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" for the soundtrack to Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

"I Still Have That Other Girl" won a Grammy Award in 1998 for "Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals" for Bacharach and Costello. Costello later wrote, "One day, while writing "I Still Have that Other Girl", we reached an impasse as to how to get to the full chorus. I was looking out of the window for inspiration when Burt began to play something I'd never heard before. It sounded beautiful, sort of Viennese. We were running a digital recorder to catch our working sketches, but when the recording was played back it was mostly obscured by me yelling, "That's it, you've got it, [...] Fortunately my overexcited babble didn't completely cover the invention, and we were able to decode the recording and complete the song".[13] The album was recorded and mixed by Kevin Killen.

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach.

  1. "In the Darkest Place" – 4:19
  2. "Toledo" – 4:35
  3. "I Still Have That Other Girl" – 2:46
  4. "This House Is Empty Now" – 5:10
  5. "Tears at the Birthday Party" – 4:38
  6. "Such Unlikely Lovers" – 3:24
  7. "My Thief" – 4:20
  8. "The Long Division" – 4:15
  9. "Painted from Memory" – 4:12
  10. "The Sweetest Punch" – 4:09
  11. "What's Her Name Today?" – 4:08
  12. "God Give Me Strength" – 6:11

1999 limited edition bonus discEdit

  1. "This House Is Empty Now" (live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, 27 November 1998)
  2. "I Still Have That Other Girl" (live at Shibuya Hall, Tokyo, 10 February 1999)
  3. "In the Darkest Place" (live at the Athenaeum, Melbourne, 16 February 1999)
  4. "Painted from Memory" (live at the Athenaeum, Melbourne, 16 February 1999)
  5. "What's Her Name Today?" (live at Shibuya Hall, Tokyo, 10 February 1999)


Chart (1998) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[14] 26
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[15] 33
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[16] 38
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[17] 29
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 18
UK Albums (OCC)[19] 32
US Billboard 200[20] 78


Prior to the recording of the album, Irish film producer Phillip King proposed to Costello that a film should be made to document the process.[21] The resulting film, Because It's a Lonely World, was produced by King's company, Hummingbird Productions;[22] the title, taken from the lyrics of "What's Her Name Today?", was also originally a working title for the album itself and part of a promotional tagline for the album.[23] The hour-long documentary originally aired in the UK on Channel 4 on 26 December 1998,[24] and in the U.S., Bravo, which was then expanding its original programming lineup during the midst of a major advertising campaign,[25] aired it on 20 October 1999.[26]


Following the album's release, Costello and Bacharach performed songs from the album together at only a limited number of venues. One of these comprised a second-season episode of the American public television program Sessions at West 54th, later released on VHS. Also at this time, however, Costello began playing a different style of live concerts, accompanied by only longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve on piano. In 1999, Costello subsequently embarked on the Lonely World Tour, performed in this style with Nieve receiving equal billing; songs from Painted from Memory were a prominent part of the setlists on this tour.

Songs from the album remain in both Costello and Bacharach's live repertoires. A rendition of "God Give Me Strength" closes Costello's 2004 orchestrated live album My Flame Burns Blue, while some of Bacharach's current concerts with regular singer John Pagano also incorporate "God Give Me Strength".

On 24 September 2014 the album was performed by Australian musical theatre stars Michael Falzon and Bobby Fox at Sydney's City Recital Hall[27] Falzon approached Fox in 2014 with a view to recreate the iconic 1998 album because, in his words "it's very much written from the heart and experience and it resonates so deeply with people. Because of the lyrics and because you can hear that hurt, you get all the emotions. And with Bacharach and Costello it's not just the lyrics; there are the clever arrangements that take you there anyway." (Michael Falzon to Bernard Zuel in the Sydney Morning Herald 20 September 2014)[28] The concert version featured popular hits by Bacharach and Costello during the first act, with a retelling of the album by Fox and Falzon in the second featuring Laura Bunting. It was produced by City Recital Hall and directed by Jonathan Biggins with Musical Director Isaac Hayward.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Painted from Memory – Elvis Costello / Burt Bacharach". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  2. ^ Considine, J. D. (29 September 1998). "No joke: Costello, Bacharach jam". The Baltimore Sun.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Costello, Elvis". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  4. ^ Browne, David (30 September 1998). "Painted from Memory". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  5. ^ Gardner, Elysa (2 October 1998). "Costello, Bacharach Sparkle on 'Memory'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  6. ^ Thomson, Neil (12 October 1998). "Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach – Painted From Memory". NME. Archived from the original on 7 October 2000. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  7. ^ Lieberman, Neil (November 1998). "Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach: Painted From Memory". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 16 March 2005. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  8. ^ Doyle, Tom (November 1998). "Two's Company". Q (146): 118–19. Archived from the original on 2 February 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  9. ^ Kot, Greg (15 October 1998). "Painted From Memory". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  10. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "Elvis Costello". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). London: Fireside Books. pp. 193–95. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  11. ^ Gehr, Richard (December 1998). "Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach: Painted From Memory". Spin. 14 (12): 184. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  12. ^ Elvis Costello (13 October 2015). Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Viking. p. 507. ISBN 978-0-241-00346-6.
  13. ^ Elvis Costello (13 October 2015). Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Viking. p. 508. ISBN 978-0-241-00346-6.
  14. ^ " – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  15. ^ " – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  16. ^ " – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  17. ^ " – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  18. ^ " – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted from Memory". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  20. ^ "Elvis Costello Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  21. ^ Kelly, John (19 December 1998), "Calling the tune", The Irish Times, p. 63
  22. ^ "Hummingbird Productions". Screen Producers Ireland. Archived from the original on 16 January 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
  23. ^ Dominic, Serene (2003), Burt Bacharach, Song by Song, Schirmer Trade Books, ISBN 0-8256-7280-5
  24. ^ "When Elvis met Burt", The Irish Times, p. 56, 24 December 1998
  25. ^ Fruitkin, Alan James (4 October 1999), "Bravo beefs up for fall", Mediaweek, vol. 9, no. 37, p. 14, ISSN 1055-176X
  26. ^ Schoemer, Karen (28 October 1999), "Because It's a Lonely World", Rolling Stone, no. 824, p. 111, ISSN 0035-791X
  27. ^ Chris Hook (16 August 2014). "Michael Falzon and Bobby Fox Will Bring The Burt Bacharach-Elvis Costello Album Painted From Memory To Life On Stage". Best Weekend: Show and Tell. The Daily Telegraph. p. 9.
  28. ^ Bernard Zuel. "Deep emotions of Painted From Memory a challenge to performers". No. 20 September 2014. Fairfax Media. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 September 2014.

External linksEdit